The Best Worksheet I have ever (re)written

Sometimes a Professional Learning workshop can make you think. Sometimes they can make you so sleepy that you question whether there was any caffeine in that triple shot latte latte you just finished. Sometimes they can make you question how you teach and excite you to try new things. Luckily for me, I went to Amie Albrecht’s sessions at the 2016 MASA Conference just over a week ago. I’ve been trying some great things that have streamed through her twitter feed (@nomad_penguin), which she shared with teachers in her workshop. I have recently blogged about how I’m using Mary Bourassa‘s (@WODBmath) Which One Doesn’t Belong problems ( I have transformed four problems that will (hopefully) magnify the amount of thought my students will have to apply to answer them using Fawn Nguyen’s (@fawnpnguyenReversing the Question method (

Here they are before and after the makeovers:


Screen Shot 2016-05-08 at 9.03.47 pm



Now, apart from changing the font, I have completely changed the problem. In fact, I haven’t changed anything about the problem at all. What I have changed, however, is the way the problem is presented.

Something I find that I talk with so many other maths teachers is whether textbooks are a good idea or not. I am reluctant to share a love or hate opinion for a specific resource or type of resource as I think there is more to how it is used than the value I place on it. As a teacher, I love textbooks. As a student, I loathed them. Why? I love having a collection of problems that progress through content with varying levels of difficulty and solutions at the back.m. I mainly use them as a resource to get ideas and, occasionally, to copy questions from for a test. I loathed them as a student because I was one of those weirdos who liked the messier problems. I didn’t want everything served to me on a “silver platter” where solving the problem was a process of taking the numbers (or “mathsy” information) and plugging them into a function or calculator to spit out a purely numerical value. So, I’m trying to be more and more like the teacher I wanted when I was a student.

Here are the other three other problems that I took off the silver platter for my students (before and after):

*downloadable worksheet here.

Edit: The Ambiguous Case




Screen Shot 2016-05-08 at 7.30.54 pm




Screen Shot 2016-05-08 at 7.43.45 pm


Screen Shot 2016-05-08 at 8.51.39 pm

Before (note: I am just about to introduce the Cosine rule, but haven’t yet):

Screen Shot 2016-05-08 at 9.18.16 pm



Cross-posted to Betterqs.


6 thoughts on “The Best Worksheet I have ever (re)written

  1. A great way to get learners thinking differently, John – makes me think of Covey’s work, with one of his key habits being ‘start with the end in mind’. I reckon you are personally exhibiting his 8th habit, which essentially urges: “Find your voice and inspire others to find theirs.”

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: The Best Worksheet I have ever (re)written | betterQs

  3. Pingback: Notice and wonder: sense making | Wonder in Mathematics

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